Objective: Vasomotor symptoms adversely affect the quality of life and functional status of most women during the menopausal transition, but little is known about how long these symptoms last. The most effective treatment, hormone therapy (HT), carries risks and benefits that depend on the timing and duration of use. In this study we sought to estimate the duration of vasomotor symptoms in a longitudinal study.
Methods: We reanalyzed primary data from 438 women in the longitudinal cohort of the population-based Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project. Two hundred and five women who had completed 13 years of follow-up were included in the analyses. The onset and cessation of vasomotor symptoms were reported, stratifying analyses according to ever use of HT. Symptom duration was calculated as the time between the first and last bothersome hot flush reported.
Results: The mean (SD) duration of bothersome menopausal symptoms for women who completed 13 years of follow-up and who never used HT was estimated to be 5.2 (3.8) years (median, 4 years). If women who used HT were included, the mean (SD) duration was 5.5 (4.0) years (median, 4 years). The estimated duration of symptoms varied according to the duration of longitudinal follow-up, with a mean estimate of 3.4 years (median, 3 years) when only 8 years of follow-up data were analyzed. The only factor associated with duration of hot flushes was regular exercise-more exercise was associated with shorter symptom duration.
Conclusions: The average duration of vasomotor symptoms in this sample is more than 5 years, substantially longer than had been previously reported.
We reanalyzed primary data from 438 women in a 13-year longitudinal cohort study to estimate the duration of vasomotor hot flushes. The average duration of vasomotor symptoms in this sample is more than 5 years, substantially longer than had been previously reported.
From the 1Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME; 2Office for Gender and Health, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; and 3Department of Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI.
Received July 2, 2008; revised and accepted September 9, 2008.
Funding/support: This work was supported by the Agency for Healthcare, Research, and Quality 2R01 HS013329-04A1. The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project has been funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, ANZ Trustees, and Perpetual Trustees.
Financial disclosure: None reported.
Address correspondence to: Nananda Col, MD, MPH, MPP, FACP, Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine Medical Center, 39 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101. E-mail: Coln@MMC.org